FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT

THE CITY IS UP TO ITS NECK IN THE OLD ELITCH'S--AND NOW IT'S CLAMMING UP.QUEASY RIDERS THE BATTLE OVER THE OLD ELITCH'S THROWS A CITY COUNCILMAN--AND HIS CONSTITUENTS--FOR A LOOP.

Gurtler, though, is already playing political hardball, raising the notion that he may sit back and allow the north Denver property to deteriorate if residents impede development efforts. "We're prepared to move as rapidly as the community lets us," he says. "If they stall, the property sits. And we don't have the resources to keep it up. So they get blight. Everybody loses."

The final battle lines won't be drawn until Biehl actually files his rezoning application, which will come in the form of a "planned unit development." According to the planning department's Ittelson, that document, which will have to detail specific plans for the site, probably won't be filed until "sometime in the fall." At that point the planning office will have thirty days to review it before sending it to the planning board. Only then will the issue go to the city council for a public hearing.

Or maybe a not-so-public hearing.
At the July 7 briefing, Bob Kelly brought up yet another nifty new wrinkle in Mount Airy: The council, claimed the attorney, could choose to debate a zoning issue behind closed doors. He justified the concept of shutting out the public entirely by noting that "there are matters such as witness credibility and weighing of the facts that can be construed to require executive session."

The vote itself will presumably still be public. And how the councilmembers will line up is anyone's guess. Neighborhood activist Ned Burke says it's almost impossible to get a consensus on Elitch's. "You can sit in any coffeehouse in northwest Denver and ask what people think of the zoning, and they'll all give you a different answer," he says.

Unless, that is, they're city council members. They'll all say the same thing:

"No comment.

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